“I had a baby and a toddler when I started a book club – it became my lifeline”

Women in cafe

No one feels sleep deprivation and busyness more than a mum with a baby and a toddler. I found myself in this position a few years ago and although I didn’t have the time or energy, I decided to start a book club with my friends. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

I needed something for myself

I’ve always had such a passion for books and was a complete bookworm when I was younger. But as I got older — and got stuck into building my career — the books began piling up next to my bed and there just never seemed time for reading. Everything else always seemed to take priority. So when I had my first baby I was excited that I might finally have some ‘down time’ to get lost in a good book. Oh how wrong I was.

Then when my second son came along (19 months later!) even the idea of picking up a magazine — let alone a book — was completely preposterous. There was no way I had time for that and yet I felt really sad about it. I’d receive great books for birthdays and Christmas, or see new releases at the library, and wish I had more time to read. I missed my favourite hobby, and in the missing it I also felt like I was missing me

I decided to do something about it

Sick of feeling sad and frustrated about not reading, I decided to take the plunge and start a book club. Sure it felt crazy (where would I find the time?!), but I’d had enough and knew something had to change. I put an email out to a bunch of friends who I knew liked reading (and were mostly all mothers) and instantly everyone was on board. They loved the idea. We decided to take turns choosing the title, give ourselves six weeks to read it, and then meet up to discuss. Everyone was pumped, especially me — I had a project outside of mum life and work, this was finally something for myself.

Next hurdle: finding the time!

I knew allocating the time to read was going to be tricky — and it was. Staying awake at night wasn’t an option because I was already bone tired, and I couldn’t count on getting a block of an hour or two to read in the day. Then I realised I’d become so used to flicking on the TV or checking Facebook when I had a spare minute, that I did have time and could pick up my book instead.

I started to look for other methods that might work for me. I was always a last minute crammer at school and decided to take the same approach with my book club. I’d read most of the book over the course of three nights, then a few extra pages here and there when I could sneak them in during the day. It worked! Before I knew it I’d read three or four new books.

Woman in a hammock reading

Then came the book club

Meeting up with my friends to discuss the book was just the icing on the cake. Not only was it great to have scheduled time away from my family responsibilities enjoying a wine with my mates, but it also meant there was a deadline in place to actually finish reading the book. I work best to deadlines so this really worked for me.

Critiquing the book and listening to what others thought was a lot of fun! It felt like we were back at school but with wine, good food and a topic we were really interested in. It felt like we were proper adults — mummies who had it all together.

The pressure was off

When you have young kids things rarely go to plan and if someone couldn’t make the club one month, was unable to finish the book, or even had to skip a book altogether, it was completely fine. You just caught up when you could. A few mums even emailed through their thoughts on the book when they couldn’t make it. The book club was all about fun — not judgement. We were all very understanding and loved every minute of it.

The book club ended up being my lifeline

Even though I felt overwhelmed by motherhood at the time, and was juggling a bit of freelance work on the side; my crazy idea to start a book club ended up being exactly what I needed at that point in my life. I needed to have something else going on that wasn’t related to my kids or work.

Unfortunately, as time progressed book club was lost to increased work commitments or more babies, but we’re in the planning stages of starting it up again once more. We realise we’ve been missing that piece of time we carved out just for ourselves and each other. And I can’t wait!

Don’t wait until you have more time to start your own

Even if you’re currently drowning in nappies and can’t imagine having the time, I’m here to tell you to throw caution into the wind and reclaim some time for something you love. Start a movie club, tennis group, sewing circle or a book club like me. Whatever you’re interested in. Make it happen! I promise that once you commit, you will find the time and you’ll love it.

Are you keen to join a book club or another hobby or interest group? Tell us about it on Facebook!

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